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Too Healthy For A Heart Attack?

Too Healthy For A Heart Attack?

A health coach shares his story.

After what appeared to be an ordinary day for a health coach and fitness instructor, Chad Templeton never expected a heart attack at 50-years-old. Chalking up the tightness in his chest and pain in his arm to muscle soreness from his previous workouts, Templeton assured himself that he was much too healthy to be encountering something this drastic.

“It has to be those workouts that I’m feeling,” Templeton said to himself as he was doing his nightly routine.

A heart attack happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart cannot get oxygen. If blood flow is not restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die.

Despite the signs, Templeton held off visiting the emergency room until the following day when the pain persisted. When he checked into North Oaks’ Emergency Room and described his pain, the staff reacted urgently to treat him. An EKG and immediate bloodwork were ordered to check for irregular rhythms and enzymes. Templeton, however, was still convinced that his pain was from his workout.

“The whole time I kept thinking, I need to just get out of here, this is ridiculous. I can’t believe I am wasting these people’s time.”

The bloodwork had shown that Templeton suffered a heart attack the day before and a stent was needed. However, since too much time had passed, the clot that formed in the heart vessel was no longer soft enough to force a stent through. The clot had hardened and the affected area had already begun to die off. Fortunately, Templeton’s heart was still deemed healthy despite the deceased section.

Receiving what seemed to be life-altering news, Templeton briefly wondered if the healthy lifestyle he was leading was a lie after suffering this trauma.

“I preach health, I preach nutrition, I preach physical activity, and here I am at 50-years-old and I just had a heart attack. Should I really be a health coach or fitness instructor?”

However, leading a healthy lifestyle was not always at the forefront of Templeton’s mind. After working in oil and other heavy industries for 30 years, he developed unhealthy habits, particularly smoking.

“I wasn’t concerned about my health. I smoked about a pack and a half a day for about 20 years. My health was just not my main priority then.”

Since eliminating these vices, a heart attack was something that still came as a shock. Dr. Brandon Cambre, an ER doctor at North Oaks who initially treated Templeton, said genetics play a massive role in one’s health down the line.

“We all know the major risk factors for coronary artery disease, but one that cannot be ignored is your genetics and family history. Even if you are in peak physical shape, you still can’t ignore it.”

Templeton said stroke and heart disease directly impacted his family; his mother suffered from heart disease and both his father and brother suffered from strokes. He came to the realization that if he would not have started living a healthier lifestyle, he fears that his heart attack could have been much more severe. He truly believes his health coaching nutrition plan and workout regime saved his life.

After two months of easing his way back into his regular life, Templeton is back motivating others every day through leading group fitness classes at the gym and running his health coaching business on Facebook. His main goal, especially after his heart attack, is to show others that it is never too late to turn your life around and that listening to your body is the first step.

“You can choose; everyone has the power to choose every day, it just matters how we all react to these circumstances.”

If you or a loved one experiences a medical emergency, don’t delay care. The North Oaks Level II Trauma Center provides immediate, lifesaving care 24 hours a day, 365 days a week.